Cathedral Quarter bomb: Shock of hero who averted carnage
A Christmas reveller who thwarted a dissident republican murder bid said he was "sick to the stomach" at the thought of the carnage the bombers could have caused.
The lethal device was left inside a sports bag at Exchange Street West by terrorists from Oglaigh na hEireann.
A warning, phoned to a newspaper less than an hour before the explosion, gave the wrong location of the bomb.
The vigilance of the member of the public who reported the bag to police meant officers did not inadvertently direct people towards it when clearing the area.
"It could have been a sports bag, it could have been innocent, but that was my instinct," he said.
"I just thought there was something not right. I was within a few yards of it and there were others coming and going past it," he told the Nolan Show.
The 62-year-old from Belfast was in the city centre for a Christmas party with colleagues.
He said he had entered the restaurant but came back onto the street as his colleagues had not arrived. The bag was still in the same place, with dozens of other revellers passing by.
He saw two police officers and approached them to point out the bag. They immediately began to clear people from the area.
"When I saw it on television I couldn't sleep. Even now my mind is in overtime," the man said.
"As I talk about it, my stomach is churning just thinking what could have happened."